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Post-Crisis Flash:

Barry Allen Returns (2009-2011)

More to come.

The contention that Barry Allen represented some iconic state of grace, to which the DC Universe might return, is at the very least problematic. Since Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wally West had starred in slightly more issues of Flash than his predecessor. But counting specials, annuals, and the like, Wally West’s tenure exceeded Barry Allen’s by far more. Also, Wally’s stories had been frequently focused on characterization, in an era that expected this in its super-hero comics. Barry Allen had never been a cipher, but it’s not too much to say that Barry had been characterized more during this period, in flashbacks and the like, than he ever was during his own adventures.

It is true that Barry Allen had never completely disappeared, and he remained very much beloved in the DC Universe. It could also be said that Wally West had been defined as a character using his dead mentor. This is one reason why the Flash TV show had chosen Barry Allen as its protagonist. Of course, with DC thinking about possible movies starring its characters, Barry Allen’s return at least made commercial sense.

But in the comics, Wally West had long escaped Barry Allen’s shadow. If any continuing character from either of the big two companies had been given a coherent character arc, over the course of decades, it was Wally West. From a rather lost young adult, struggling with his mentor’s death and a lack of direction, Wally had very much come into his own. He was allowed to marry and even to become a parent. Robin would never graduate to become Batman; Bruce Wayne is too iconic. But the DC Universe was a generational story, in which Wally West represented, more than anyone else, a sidekick who had grown up to assume a place of undisputed respect as the DC Universe’s Flash.

And if one wished to see it, this story actually made a far more compelling subject for a super-hero movie than a police scientist struck by chemicals. In fact, this might have been used to distinguish any Flash movie from the plethora of other super-hero films, which had come to dominate Hollywood blockbusters.

Once Barry Allen had returned, he felt like a very strange fit. Hal Jordan, whom writer Geoff Johns had also restored as DC’s main Green Lantern, had been gone about a decade. Barry Allen had been absent for a quarter century. Seeing him in decompressed, long-form stories — especially ones with a level of violence his own stories couldn’t have imagined — felt wrong. Moreover, Barry Allen’s generally repressed, goody-two-shoes character also wasn’t suited to this new era of super-hero stories. It’s not that Barry Allen never got angry, but it was impossible to imagine him as an agonized contemporary hero. Hal Jordan, by contrast, had long been defined by anger, poor choices in relationships, and a sense of being lost amid cosmos-spanning chaos. Inevitably, the demands of contemporary stories would shift Barry’s characterization away from anything recognizable as a continuation of the old Barry Allen. This new Barry Allen was simply a new alter ego, whose name and likeness resembled the old Barry Allen, without any sense of real continuity.

Flash: Rebirth #1

first issue; written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated June 2009

Flash: Rebirth #2

written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated July 2009

Flash: Rebirth #3

written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Aug 2009

Flash: Rebirth #4

written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Sept 2009

Flash: Rebirth #5

written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Jan 2010

Flash: Rebirth #6

final issue; written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Apr 2010

Blackest Night: The Flash #1

first issue; written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Feb 2010

Blackest Night: The Flash #2

written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Mar 2010

Blackest Night: The Flash #3

final issue; written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Apr 2010

Flash Secret Files and Origins 2010 #1

only issue; written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated May 2010

Flash Vol. 3 #1

first issue; written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated June 2010

Flash Vol. 3 #2

written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated July 2010

Flash Vol. 3 #3

written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Aug 2010

Flash Vol. 3 #4

written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Sept 2010

Flash Vol. 3 #5

written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Oct 2010

Flash Vol. 3 #6

written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated early Jan 2011

Flash Vol. 3 #7

written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated late Jan 2011

Flash Vol. 3 #8

“Reverse-Flash: Rebirth”

  • written by Geoff Johns

published by DC Comics; cover-dated early Feb 2011
Flash Vol. 3 #9

written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Apr 2011

Flash Vol. 3 #10

written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated early June 2011

Flash Vol. 3 #11

written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated late June 2011

Flash Vol. 3 #12

“Case Two: The Road to Flashpoint, Part Four”

  • written by Geoff Johns
  • leads pretty directly into Flashpoint Vol. 2 #1

final issue; published by DC Comics; cover-dated July 2011

Flashpoint

Flashpoint Vol. 2 #1

first issue; written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated July 2011

Flashpoint Vol. 2 #2

written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Aug 2011

Flashpoint Vol. 2 #3

written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Sept 2011

Flashpoint Vol. 2 #4

written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated early Oct 2011

Flashpoint Vol. 2 #5

final issue; written by Geoff Johns; published by DC Comics; cover-dated late Oct 2011

Flashpoint Side Stories

Flashpoint: Reverse-Flash #1

“…My Revenge”

  • written by Geoff Johns; art by Joel Gomez
  • tells how Reverse-Flash, after failing to defeat Barry Allen, came to kill Barry’s mother

only issue; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Aug 2011

Flashpoint: Grood of War #1

only issue; written by Sean Ryan; pencils by Ig Guara; inks by Ruy José; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Aug 2011

Flashpoint: Citizen Cold #1

“Cold-Hearted”

  • written by Geoff Johns; art by Scott Kolins
  • Citizen Cold (mostly seen as a hero) kills Wally West in the end

first issue; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Aug 2011

Flashpoint: Citizen Cold #2

“Cold-Hearted, Chapter Two”

  • written by Geoff Johns; art by Scott Kolins

published by DC Comics; cover-dated Sept 2011
Flashpoint: Citizen Cold #3

“Cold-Hearted, Chapter Three”

  • written by Scott Kolins; art by Scott Kolins
  • Iris West kills Citizen Cold in the end

final issue; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Oct 2011

Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost #1

first issue; written by Sterling Gates; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Aug 2011

Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost #2

written by Sterling Gates; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Sept 2011

Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost #3

“Kid Flash Lost, Part Three”

  • written by Sterling Gates
  • after picking up the speed force from all the various dead speedsters (including Wally West, making this best read after Flashpoint: Citizen Cold #1-3), Kid Flash dies delivering this energy to Barry Allen, apparently sometime during his mid-issue run to stop his previous self in Flashpoint Vol. 2 #5

final issue; published by DC Comics; cover-dated Oct 2011


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